Andrew WK/Close Calls With Brick Walls-Mother Of Mankind

Andrew W.K. (born Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, May 9, 1979 in Stanford, California) is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and entertainer.

On March 23rd, 2010, Andrew released a two disc set, “Close Calls With Brick Walls / Mother of Mankind”. The two albums contain 39 tracks total, and come packaged in a slipcase. The “Close Calls With Brick Walls” album had originally been released in 2006, but only in Japan (by Universal Music Group), and in South Korea (by Dope Entertainment). A limited edition gatefold double vinyl LP version of “Close Calls With Brick Walls” was released in 2007 by the US label, Load Records. The “Mother of Mankind” album features rare and unreleased tracks spanning the years 1999 to 2010. [Wikipedia]

I Came for You—-The one thing that you will undoubtedly notice from the very onset of this track is that this is not the Andrew WK of ‘I Get Wet’. The sound is more polished, the music is more mature and the instruments are layered and played with finesse. WK has a pretty great singing voice…when he isn’t screaming and ranting. This is an impressive example of maturity.

Close Calls With Bal Harbour—-Magically interludes with the previous song, this minute and 1/2 interlude is odd and atmospheric. With few lyrics, this is instead full of an almost chanting vocal that lulls you for a moment….until….

Not Going To Bed—-This is much more in the style of earlier WK tracks…piano heavy, faster than the speed of light and with a theme of staying up for days…for fun, for work,,,,,or just because. It is nice to hear this, but I’m glad we do not have 39 songs of this.

You Will Remember Tonight—-While still piano based and somewhat fast, this reminds me of Elvis Costello overdosing on Springsteen. The voice is so much like Costello and the music is stadium huge. This is pretty fantastic. The drums are stellar and the guitar plays in perfect tandem with the piano. Great track.

Pushing Drugs—-Seeming to have a slight nod to the electronic side of things, the song is heavy on guitar and pogo styled deliveries. Andrew sounds almost like a foreigner to me on this track…he seems to have this chameleon thing down pretty well. A really great song that is placed strategically…you will never be bored with this CD!!

Hand On The Place—-Another magic segue, this track is again full of huge arena sized guitar and bass. WK leans slightly to the past, but without the erratic piano and screamed and rushed vocal. This again makes me think of Costello. This track reeks of New Jersey!

One Brother—-The premise of the track is kind of silly, but when the music opens up you are in danger of being swallowed up by the large mouth of the instrumentation. This really reminds me of…..Cheap Trick!!!

Las Vegas, Nevada—-Perfecting the whole chameleon thing, this track really makes me want to grab some classic New York Dolls or solo Johansen. This is dirty New York piano blues. You can almost see the hazy, smoke-filled club and the Bohemians running around smoking joints. This is great!

Dr. Dumont—-Clocking in at just one minute, six seconds, this is a moody piano filled instrumental that makes you wonder what the hell the recording sessions for this schizophrenic release must have been like. This is rather pretty.

I Want To See You Go Wild—-This is rambunctious, slightly irritating and literally delicious. What surprises me is how much the tone of WK has changed since his first two releases. This is fun, manic and refreshing.

When I’m High—-Beginning with some huge movie styled instrumentation, this sounds like a major soundtrack recording. The ever-present piano is here and the crescendo that ushers in the vocal is straight New Jersey rock. This is so Springsteen, you become almost instantly hungry for The Boss. This is remarkable!!!

Golden Eyed Dog—-The first thing you notice is the missing piano…well, for a moment…..because the track is a mere 29 seconds and effortlessly segues into…

Into The Clear—-Which comes pretty close to much of the classic guitar based songs on The River. Obviously someone has been listening to Bruce and Meatloaf for extended moments of time. This is short, yet epic.

Mark My Grace—-With full on guitar distortion, the song seems to build and build in intensity, but never really goes anywhere. The vocal is an odd display of muted sounds until the refrain opens up backed by a very prominent bass line. The first track on this release I have found that I really do not much care for.

Don’t Call Me Andy—-THIS IS BRILLIANT!!!! This track will be in your head long after you file this away in your collection. The song has a slight throwback feel of the 50’s and is large in sound and construction. My gut tells me this track is about Andy Kaufman…it just seems an appropriate reference.

The Background—-This is interesting from the onset…it is almost impossible to describe the instrumentation except to again use the movie reference. The vocal is a slight blues romp that plays well in both arenas and smoky bars. This is pretty interesting if doing nothing more than showing the versatility of the man…the legend. Excellent.

Slam John Against A Brick Wall—-Beginning with the title being repeated and repeated in a maddening chorus of voices, the majority of the song is nothing but that. This is interesting, but nerve-racking after about three bars of the same chant. This I could do without…only the musical interlude saves the song with huge horns and fun piano. This is different.

The Moving Room—-Beginning in a rather mellow feel, the song grows and grows and becomes another New Jersey styled huge arena anthem that the kids at the Vans store will love. This is neither Rock nor Alternative but instead a brilliant mix of both. The song has an addictive quality that will have you listening to it again and again.

We Party [You Shout]—-Returning to straight forward Andrew WK mayhem, this is a bar stomper that is heavy on piano and lines that encourage the crowd to scream them at the top of their lungs. This is brilliant and is placed on the release in just the right place. This is a needed respite and a reminder or why I really loved Andrew and bought into the hype back in the 90’s.

High Five—-This is head on ball to the walls party Rock that plays so well. It manages to keep a really fresh feel throughout the song and seems like a band effort as there are obviously more voices than just WK, although his remains the most constant. This is remarkable….ballsy, energetic and fun all at the same time.

Let’s Go On A Date—-With a nice guitar intro, the song ushers in the piano of WK, and a chorus that is fun and a little bit juvenile. This is almost pop punk in nature with a the huge sing-a-long chorus and the premise is of a much younger guy, but it remains fun even after ten or twenty listens, so mission accomplished!

We Got A Groove—-Ok…this has a sound that makes you ALMOST think of the islands…this is odd for me…the song has an obvious three beat Reggae island feel to me but this is just too weird to appeal to the masses or even me…and that is saying something.

Sarah Notto—-Obviously recorded at the same time as the previous song, the odd cartoon voices are present throughout the track and this manages to really get on my nerves. I really do not care for this very much…..the premise and the delivery are just to foreign.

I’m A Vagabond—-Delving back into the familiar sounds of Jersey Stadium Rock, WK reminds everyone that you cannot attempt to pigeon hole him in any particular genre of music…no…Really!!! LOL. This is clear after about 4 songs from this epic release. The song is straight forward stadium sized magic that grows and grows on you….fantastic!!

I’ve Got Know Fear—-Yes, that is the correct title! This begins rather epic in sound with rain and thunder in the backdrop and intense orchestration that magically fades away as the song evolves into an almost psychedelic Beatles thing that makes you think of LSD and San Francisco. This is intense…not a happy song, but a masterful one none the less.

Big Party—-This is funky, Electronic in feel and not at all what you would expect. This seems like a typical WK anthem that has been slowed down and infused with Chili Pepper fun. You will be hard pressed not to like this.

Who Knows?—-Once again, this track begins in epic Motion Picture size orchestration that has you waiting for Star Wars to begin on your computer screen. The feeling and emotion of the track is dark, with huge crashing crescendos and a somber tone that runs throughout the underbelly¬† of this track….no vocal, this is masterful instrumentation.

Coming Bad—-Full of Sabbath styled dirge and bass, the vocal seems to be really pushed to the very back of the sound and allowing the deepness of the track to lead the feel until the third bar or so when everything clears up and becomes a huge Steinman/Meatloaf styled romp that remains lots of fun. Remarkable.

Can You Dance With Me?—-This differs little from anything else on this huge release…the piano is in full throttle and the vocal is so much more accessible than in the early days, again reminding me of The Dolls and that whole New York/Jersey feel that i have not been able to escape on this release. This is great fun.

Kicks And Bricks—-This almost reminds me of a track on the first Methods Of Mayhem releaee…it is full of funk, party riffs and the ever-present pounding on the piano. This is great, relentless fun.

A.W.K.—-Beginning in a rather slow style with what sounds like violins and eventually a whole orchestra, the build up to the song is huge, almost monstrous. The swells of atmosphere are so damn pleasant you will lose yourself in the mellow yet grand feel of the track. This is incredible…just for the versatility of it all.

I Will Find God—-Returning to the straight on piano rock of the early days, the remarkable thing about this song is the fun angle of it even though the lyrics have a serious appeal to them. All in all, this was meant to be a stomper and more importantly fun. Point taken!!!

This Is My World—-With a vocal that could almost rival the intensity of Pete Steele at the onset, the song slowly evolves into a really fun song that could be a huge radio hit if it were ever given the chance. This is brilliant…the melody is so damn catchy, the lyrics are easy yet impactful…keep going Andrew…we need you!

Young World—-From the onset, this is really different…the vocal is mutated and the music is slow. plodding and almost pretty. When WK coos, it sounds like all of Sha-Na-Na combined together…I’m serious yo!!! This is remarkable…I love all of the little surprises that this release has given to me…it is well worth the money and the times it takes to dig through the whole thing. This is noisy, pleasant, ambient and full of contrasting, mutated sounds. WOW!!!

We’re Not Gunna Get Old—-Beginning rather ordinary, the song slowly builds and builds into yet another Jersey styled anthem that will have you grabbing Springsteen. This is remarkable if only for the delivery of the song…this is a true WK classic, but it is slowed and allowed to be savored. This is really GREAT!!!!

Kill Yourself—-With an almost 80’s styled synth line, the song begins in a really atmospheric manner with some interesting soundbites that just tells you where this song is going. I don’t like to think that this is a permission slip for suicide, but it dangerously pushes the envelope…re-itterting many of the feelings people who would listen to this would relate to. As the soundbite fades, the song evolves into a pretty mellow continuation of the early mood. This borders on tacky for anyone who has dealt with this feeling or this act…shame on you Andrew.

I Want Your Face—-With a great return to the piano driven rock that first propelled him, Andrew sounds so much like Costello that it is almost scary…wow, where the hell did this evolution come from. This is fantastic fun!!!

Jewel Street Man—-With an almost Yaz/Erasure styled synth line at the beginning of the song, you wonder still what the hell is going on. This is phenomenal. The mood is so thick that you can’t hide from it no matter how hard you try. This is ambient, styled and effective. Andrew…you are a man of many faces and talents.

The Party God—-Beginning with lots of mood, the song continues to build and build until it is a full on assault of classic WK styles. The intro is the best as the psuedo-orchestration adds to the mounting emotion and hype of the song……a fantasitic end to a wonderful journey.

****3/4 out of 5


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